Michigan has six commitments to the 2020 football recruiting class, and while that isn’t a mind-boggling number at this stage, it just might be an indication that Jim Harbaugh and his staff are being more selective and now have that luxury.
As Harbaugh enters his fifth season as head coach, personnel and position needs have been filled for the most part and now the staff can focus their energy on landing the best players at any position.
Michigan’s top-ranked commitment is four-star cornerback Andre Seldon from Belleville. He is the No. 18 cornerback nationally according to the 247Sports Composite.
But the Wolverines are in good position to land four-star safety Jordan Morant from New Jersey, and Port Huron Northern four-star defensive end Braiden McGregor has Michigan and Notre Dame as his leading choices.
There’s plenty of time until the early signing period in December, but so far, Michigan has been making solid inroads with top players nationally.
“The class is good,” said Allen Trieu, who handles Midwest recruiting for 247Sports. “In other years they’ve probably flown out the gate faster in terms of number of commitments. But that’s also part of, now you’re going to go after the top of the (recruiting) board and those kids don’t generally decide as early and Michigan does not need to fill the class early. They have a really good start to the class. This is one that can really build.
“Now it’s less about needs and going after who you think are the best players at each position. I don’t see them necessarily needing to get players at this position or that position. Now you’re trying to upgrade the roster. That seems to be the goal now.”
Michigan lost badly at Ohio State, 62-39, in the final regular-season game last fall, and while that has left a bitter taste for the Wolverines players and coaches, that’s apparently not something that has affected most recruits, Trieu said.
“I think kids are different than fans and even reporters,” he said. “They forget about those results. They don’t dwell on those results as much as the average fan does. They’re trying to make decisions for a lot of different reasons. When they visit these schools it’s about the relationships they’re building and the academics and the people they’re meeting. Those things are more important than the result of one game.”
Harbaugh’s staff continues to evolve and there are four new hires – Josh Gattis as offensive coordinator, Shaun Nua and Anthony Campanile on the defensive side, and Ben McDaniels as quarterbacks coach. It is a young staff that has meshed well with more experienced coaches like Harbaugh, who is 55, defensive coordinator Don Brown, who will turn 64 in July, 57-year-old offensive coordinator Ed Warinner and cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich, who is 55.
Seven assistants are in their 30s – including running backs coach Jay Harbaugh, who turns 30 in June – and they are all in tune with recruiting and how to go about it these days with young players who rely so much on social media and texting. McDaniels and Chris Partridge are 38, Nua is 37, Campanile is 36, Gattis is 35 and tight ends coach Sherrone Moore is 33.
“Jim Harbaugh alluded to it when he made the hires that recruiting was a big part of that,” Trieu said. “And I think you’ve seen the impact these guys have had. Maybe it’s through osmosis, but the (entire) staff has picked it up on the recruiting trail. Maybe it’s the presence of the new guys who have built reputations as younger guys who are really good recruiters. The older guys are saying, ‘Hey, we can recruit, too.' Ed Warinner, the book on Ed was, great, great coach, but maybe not the greatest recruiter. That’s proven to be false at Michigan. He’s been really strong on the recruiting trail.”
Michigan 2020 commitments
►JD Johnson, QB, Pinnacle HS, Phoenix (four stars)
►Micah Mazzccua, OT, St. Frances Academy, Baltimore (three stars)
►Nick Patterson, TE, San Antonio Christian HS (three stars)
►Osman Savage, LB, St. Frances Academy, Baltimore (four stars)
►Andre Seldon, CB, Belleville (four stars)
►Cornell Wheeler, LB, West Bloomfield (three stars)